Living in Tokyo has many perks, but flying drones is not one of them.
I manage to find a couple website retailers based in Japan and there are plenty of RC Car Shops if I ever need basic hardware and tools. However, the closes Safe-fly zone is 90 mins by train in any direction of Tokyo, all parks are banned in Tokyo, all indoor places require the permission of the owner.
The rules are translated in English here: http://www.mlit.go.jp/en/koku/uas.html
and summarize by another website here: http://www.aircraft-world.com/en/Japan-Aviation-Law
I think I found a “loophole” in the rules.
They first define a UAV as:
“The term “UA/Drone” means any airplane, rotorcraft, glider or airship which cannot accommodate any person on board and can be remotely or automatically piloted (Excluding those lighter than 200g. The weight of a UA/Drone includes that of its battery.).”
and the second site goes further:
Flying heavier than 200g machines inside DID area, require registration of the machine and the place, where you are flying. No need from registration outside of DID area. No need from machine registration for flying on already registered places.
Included in this 200g is only required minimum for the machine to fly - frame + motors + esc +propellers + flight controller + receiver + battery. FPV gear (camera, VTx, OSD, antenna) is not part of the calculation. So your total weight can be more than 200g.
Does that mean all the listed rules only apply to 200 gram plus drones? And my little tiny Atom83 with 1105 “toy” is OK to fly within the city???
I even considered making a VTX payload with a dedicated battery pack, so my drone would be 199.99 grams, all motor and li-po. I would even print out the Rules (in Japanese and English) and carry it with me. I could make the payload detachable and pull out a scale to prove that I am under the 200 grams…
Unfortunately, I don’t want to risk the hassle. I don’t speak Japanese well enough to argue semantics with the police. My wife also said “Police trained falcons probably won’t check the weight before they swoop down and eat your drone for lunch.”
My question to everyone: Would you do it?
On a positive note, this has pushed me to just build a more robust 3 inch quad (1407 motor, 4s), since I have to travel an hour anyways to fly, might as well make it worth it. I still need it small enough for the train ride, but still.